Hope for a pensive, doubting, and so fearful heart.

Jesus said that he would preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim freedm for the captives, and release prisoners from darkness. (Lk. 4:18/ Is.61:1) It has always struck me that God places broken hearts on the same level as poor, captives, and prisoners. He takes brokenness seriously.

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it! 1Thess. 5:23-24 MSG

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Ps.126:5 NIV

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 147:3 NIV

Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart- John Newton

Pensive, doubting, fearful heart
Hear what Christ the Savior says
Every word should joy impart
Change thy mourning into praise
Yes, He speaks and speaks to thee
May He help thee to believe
Then thou presently will see
Thou has little cause to grieve

Fear thou not, nor be ashamed
All thy sorrows soon shall end
I, who heaven and earth have framed
Am thy Husband and thy Friend
I, the High and Holy One
Israel's God, by all adored
As thy Savior will be known
Thy Redeemer and thy Lord

For a moment I withdrew
And thy heart was filled with pain
But my mercies I'll renew
Thou shall soon rejoice again
Though I seem to hide my face
Very soon my wrath shall cease
'Tis but for a moment's space
Ending in eternal peace

Though afflicted, tempest tossed
Comfortless awhile thou art
Do not think thou can be lost
Thou art graven on my heart
All thy wastes I will repair
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew
And in thee it shall appear
What the God of love can d


HIS ways are higher than mine. Literally.

This past Saturday was an Excursion day here in the Dominican! This time it was "creeking" er... "rivering." So we all put on our very stylish water shoes, piled into the back of a truck, and headed out to the river. To our leaders, walking through the river meant: climbing/falling over slippery river rocks, wading through brown 38* water, and being suddenly whisked down-stream by an unforeseen current shift. It was actually quite fun, and once you had fallen in a couple of times, the water didn't seem quite so cold. :) One thing you've got to know about me though, is that I don't like murky water, deep water, currents, or surprises. Needless to say, this excursion was a test for me. The hardest part came toward the very end of our trip down the river. We had just made our way across to the other side, avoiding the rapids, and were entering the river again, were it would be just a short moment of creeking to our final destination where the beach was. I ended up in the middle of the pack with no one really near me in front, or behind. All of a sudden I got caught in a current and realized I couldn't touch and therefore couldn't stop myself. I panicked as I rushed past those who had already reached the beach and were standing on solid ground. Terrified, I watched them watch me pass them, and I cried out to God. And then my feet hit the sand. Just like that. I stumbled onto the beach, emotionally scrambled. I dumped my things and got as far away from other people and the river as possible, without leaving the beach. (It was a SMALL small beach!) Everybody eventually convened and people began swimming and jumping off the "cliffs" (more like giant rocks), while some people just laid out in the sun. I, however, shut down. I was done with the river, angry with the excursion, and upset that other people were having fun and not being careful. Then that Still Small Voice nudged me. Are you going to let this ruin the excursion and ruin your day?Yes! Yes, I am. But God is the God of Redemption! Even redemption of creeking excursions:) He was so very persistent, and finally I agreed that I was not going to allow that moment of losing control sour the river for me. So I ventured out into the water again and waded for a bit and watched some people jumping off the rocks. And it hit me: I need to do that. I need to trade this Fear for Trust. Crazy.

Climbing up to jump off!
So I jumped off, not one, but two different "cliffs" and it was terrifying, but there was such freedom in it. Standing on the edge, toes curled around the rock, I was looking down at the exact spot in the river where I had been carried away by the current, and like a complete fool- I decided to throw caution to the wind. I jumped, and I met Joy in the splash. Because His ways are higher than mine.


Tricky, Tricky God!

Just a few highlights from the last two weeks:

  • I'm a pro at killing drunken Dominican bees.
  • If we are what we eat, I am the first official avacado-plantain hybrid.
  • If I had a quarter for everytime my little brother ran around in his underwear... I'd have tuition covered.
  • Does carrying a knife and pepper spray count as packin' heat?
  • Drinking rotten pineapple made into juice has the same effects as eating rotten pineapple plain.

As you can see, it's been both exciting and interesting so far!  There is something truly exhilerating about being exactly where you're supposed to be.  Until you figure out why you're supposed to be there.  Ha.  

I found out about this trip during my sophmore year in highschool and, as I already knew I would be going to Bethel, I determined that this trip was definitely for me.  What an incredible way to experience immersion in the Hispanic culture I love so much, and what an amazing opportunity to learn Spanish.  So, I definitely had my own purposes for coming to the DR.  The awesome thing, in my mind, was that they were God's purposes too!  He has called me to minister to the Hispanic community, so what better way to prepare myself for His calling than this?  While I am still convinced that He desires for me to learn this language and to learn it with the help of this experience, He has made me aware that His ways are higher than mine.  His purposes take precedence over mine. 

Like most people, I have my share of junk and baggage in my life.  I've learned to live with it.  Not only that, I took it a step or seven further, and I have built up my identity in my baggage.  Jesus is pretty clear about where our identity ought to be found.  But Jesus, I don't know who I am without this!  But He does.  

In my small group we were talking about God's reasons for bringing each of us here, to the DR.  My answer was easy and right at the tip of my tongue.  "To learn Spanish!!"  And then that still small, yet utterly insistent voice whispered... THIS is why I brought you here.  It was MY idea.  I want to make you Holy and Whole, without your baggage.

Naturally, I acted as most children do when they don't get their way.  "Gaa-aaahd!!  Noooo.  That's not fair.  You tricked me.  You dangled the Spanish carrot and then swooped down with your major remodel plans and I just DON'T WANT TO DO THIS HERE!"  Ah ha!  The perfect excuse.  So, in my best politician impression I diplomatically say: "Now, God.  This seems like a great plan.  How well thought out!  But let's not be too hasty.  You'll have my full support and cooperation as soon as I get back on US soil."  Imagine how well that went over.  

So here I am in the DR.  Doing my best to meekly accept God's true purpose for bringing me  here.  So keep praying for me, because I am not meek by nature.  


Junior Birdsman

I've been in the Dominican Republic for almost an entire week!  I think it's finally starting to set in that I'm really here...  A couple more fried plantains ought to finalize it for me:)

The rest of the DR Semester '11 team is absolutely fabulous!  I know that if nothing else, just being able to share this experience with them will make the semester worthwhile.  We already have a quote book started and several inside jokes.  One of my favorites is the song "Junior Birdsman."  When I was in Spain this summer, we taught the kids at English camp this fantastic WWII relic.  I just had to share it with my DR team, so the first day of orientation I started singing it, much to everyone's great delight. (sarcasm)  With the help of Garrett, who was also in Spain this summer, I got the song firmly stuck in everyone's heads.  Now it has become our theme song!  I couldn't be more pleased:)

The food here is absolutely fantastic!  Rice, beans, plantains, and avacados are staples at every lunch and dinner.  If you don't know, plantains are potatoey vegitables that look like giant bananas.  They are starchy, but have less flavor and are softer than potatoes.  There seem to be about a million different ways to eat plantains.  I like to say that we eat plantains like it's our job.

Speaking of plantains... two nights ago our host mom was gone and so we ate supper with our "house-grandma."  She cooked us plantains in a brand new way.  I can't say for sure, but I'm fairly certain they were boiled in some kind of vinegar and then buttered.  Hannah was less than impressed, though I liked them better in this way than mashed like potatoes.  When Mami left the room, Hannah asked me if I wanted the second half of her plantain.  Though I didn't mind the dish, I didn 't really want a second helping, so I said no.  Hannah would not take no for an answer, she was sure that I really DID want more plantain.  So, when I got up to chase a stray cat, she slipped the veggie delight onto my plate.  Upon my return to the table, I saw it sitting there, grabbed and tried to throw it back onto Hannah's plate before Mami came back in.  FAIL.  I missed her plate and the plantain landed with a loud "SPLAT!" on the floor right in front of Mami...  oops.  Hannah and I nervously giggled until Mami laughed at us... then it was all over.  Hannah and I nearly exploded laughing at our joke.  Thankfully, Mami has a great sense of humor and just assumed that we were being crazy Americans, and well- we were!


Here I am, send me! (oh wait, you already did)

I'm in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic!
Wow.  I can hardly believe I'm here.  Right now I'm staying at the Students International base; I'll move into my host family's house on Saturday morning.  My roommate, Hannah Akers, and I will be living with a lady named Ingrid.  Right now, all we know about her is her name and that she lives a half mile from the base.  Since we will be living so close to base, we will walk to classes every afternoon.  We'll have Spanish classes from 3:00 to 6:00 everyday and a Bible study/small group time twice a week in the evenings.  Josh and Vicky are the team directors, and they have been pumping us full of information!  Schedules, rules, suggestions, comands:)  They've been great and it will be amazing to work with them.

Estoy en Jarabacoa, República Dominicana!
No puedo creer que estoy aquí.  En este momento, me quedo al compuesto de Estudiantes Internacional; me voy a la casa de mi familia Dominicana el Sábado en la mañana.  Mi compañera de cuarto, Hannah Akers, y yo viviremos con una mujer quien se llama Ingrid.  Ahora, la única cosa que sabemos es su nombre y que ella vive muy cerca al compuesto.  Por eso, Hannah y yo caminaremos a clases todos los días.  Tenemos clases de Español de 15:00 a 18:00 cada día y un culto dos veces de la semana.  Josh y Vicky son los directores de nuestra equipo y nos han dado mucho información!  Horarios, reglas, sugerencias, y mandatos... :)  Son superbuenos y va a ser divertido para trabajar con ellos.

Today we did a scavenger hunt in town, to get to know the area a bit.  In the process, I met a very friendly Dominican mutt, whose name I believe is Chile.  He REALLY liked me.  :)  His owner was a little boy who was trying to convince us all to let him shine our shoes.  I told him my flipflops didn't really need a shining...  He told me his dog really liked me.  Brent is slightly concerned that this means all Dominican mutts will like me.  I hope so:)

Hoy tuvimos un "partido" de buscar varias tiendas y lugares en la ciudad.  Conocí un perro muy amable, quien se llama Chile. Yo le gustaba mucho!!  Su dueño fue en niño que quería limpiar nuestros zapatos.  Le dije que mis chanclas no necesita ser limpiado, y me dijo que su perro le gusto mucho.  Brent tiene miedo que esto significa que todos los perros en la República Dominicana van a les gustare.  Espero que sí! 

I'm nervous to meet my host family, but so excited to begin the immersion process.  I got to speak a little Spanish today, and I can't wait to speak more.
Part of me thinks I'm insane to be here.  I catch myself wondering what in the heck I'm doing this far away from home.  Couldn't I find some nice Hispanic neighborhood to hang out in somewhere in Elkhart?  But I know that I'm supposed to be here, over 2,000 miles from home...  So maybe I am crazy, but I certainly wouldn't be the first person who was crazy for Jesus. :)

Estoy nerviosa para conocer mi familia nueva, pero estoy muy emocionada para comenzar la procesa de inmersión.  Hoy, hablé un poquito en Español, y quiero hablar mas!!  
Un parte de mi cree que soy loca por estar aquí.  A veces me pregunto que estoy haciendo muy lejos de casa.  No puedo encontrar un barrio Hispánico en mi ciudad en que puedo pasar tiempo??  Pero yo se que necesito estar aquí, 2.000 millas de casa... así, quizás en realidad soy loca, pero no soy la primera persona quien era loca para Cristo. :)